October 2016 Newsletter


Applications for Cohort Seven Close December 1st

Applications to join Cohort Seven of the Doris Duke Fellowships for the Promotion of Child Well-Being are now open! Doris Duke fellows receive an annual stipend, mentoring from academic and policy leaders, and opportunities to collaborate with an interdisciplinary group of like-minded doctoral students who are future leaders and change agents in the field of promoting child and family well-being. We encourage you to share this information with those in your networks who may be interested.

Please visit the Apply section of our website to download application materials, view frequently asked questions, and learn more about the fellowships. The deadline to apply for Cohort Seven is 11:59 PM central time on December 1, 2016. Please email ddfellowships@chapinhall.org with any questions.

Fellows: Save the Date for the
Mid-Year Meeting!

The dates have been announced! The next Doris Duke Fellowships Mid-Year Meeting will take place on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 through Friday, March 24, 2017 at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. All current fellows will attend the meeting, and all graduated fellows are invited to attend! Stay tuned for additional information about the meeting. Questions? Email Sarah Wagener, Fellowship Network Coordinator, at swagener@chapinhall.org.

Featured Fellow Interview:
Dr. Jessica Wilen

Each month, Sarah Wagener, Fellowship Network Coordinator at Chapin Hall, connects with a different graduated fellow to showcase the many different ways in which Doris Duke fellows prevent child maltreatment and promote the health and well-being of children and youth.

This month, Sarah connected with Dr. Jessica Wilen, a Cohort Two fellow, who currently serves as the assistant dean of students at Washington University in St. Louis and as adjunct faculty at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.

Sarah Wagener (SW): What are your primary responsibilities and priorities as assistant dean of students at Wash U?

Jessica Wilen (JW): My priority as Assistant Dean of Students is to provide undergraduate and graduate students with the tools and resources needed to achieve their full potential. This includes ensuring that students who are struggling with various challenges have the support and connections required to keep themselves, and their communities, safe and productive.

SW: What projects or initiatives are you currently working on as Assistant Dean?

JW: My primary project is called WashU Cares, which is a program that identifies students of concern and ensures a cohesive and robust response from relevant members of the University community.

In addition to chairing our behavioral intervention team, we are beginning to build out our case management services for students. Case management is an emerging best practice in higher education, and I’m excited to be at the forefront of developing a comprehensive, outcomes-based program.

SW: In addition to serving as Assistant Dean of Students, you also teach at the Brown School of Social Work. What do you enjoy about your work at the Brown School that is different from your work as assistant dean?

JW: My love for teaching was one of my primary drivers for entering a doctoral program, so staying connected to the classroom is important to me.  I’m motivated by my students’ enthusiasm and optimism, and I enjoy cultivating their ability to think analytically about social problems. My hope is that students leave my class feeling both nurtured and challenged—it’s a difficult balance, but I believe that’s when the most meaningful learning takes place.

SW: How do you see the work in which you’re currently engaged as connecting to a larger mission of promoting the health and well-being of youth and adolescents?

JW: For a variety of reasons, we are seeing a national increasing number of students entering college with significant mental health, interpersonal, and emotional challenges, coupled with an increase in complexity of these challenges. Consistent with the values of the fellowship, my approach is very much informed by a developmental lens; I find it useful to understand a student’s cumulative life experiences and take a trauma-focused perspective when working with them. Promoting the health and well-being of emerging adults is a natural extension of my youth-focused work.

SW: How do you measure the impact of the projects or initiatives in which you are involved as assistant dean? Have you seen any changes in students, faculty/staff, or the campus in general since beginning in your role?

JW: Success in my current position is primary determined by keeping students safe and providing support to be successful in their academic and personal lives. I am collaborating with some of my colleagues in academic affairs to operationalize a comprehensive list of desired outcomes and institute a more formalized assessment plan.

SW: How has your Doris Duke Fellowships experience influenced the current work you do?

JW: The Fellowship provided me with the peer support, confidence, and financial resources to excel in graduate school and pursue my current role. I continue to stay in touch with my Doris Duke colleagues both formally and informally, including soliciting feedback on enhancing pedagogy and ways to improve and assess student outcomes.

SW: Do you have any advice for others who are interested in pursuing a “non-traditional” career path after completing their doctorate?

JW: Even if you aren’t on the tenure track, your degree will open many doors and the skills you hone through doctoral work (e.g., critical thinking, the ability to evaluate data, effective communication) will serve you well, regardless of your field. Instead of focusing on what you “should” do, ask what will give you the greatest sense of impact, accomplishment, and balance. 

If you are interested in connecting with Jessica to learn more about her work in student affairs, email her at jessicawilen@gmail.com.

Policy Update: Childhood Outcomes Need New Efficient Community Teams Act

In August, a bipartisan team of senators introduced the Childhood Outcomes Need New Efficient Community Teams (CONNECT) Act, which is designed to improve outcomes for youth who are involved in both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. One unique feature of the act is that it makes grant funds available for state juvenile justice and child welfare systems to collaborate in order to create reforms. More information about the CONNECT Act can be found here.

Screen Shot 2016-09-30 at 11.19.44 AM.png

Noteworthy Resource:
Expecting Better: A State-by-State Analysis of Laws That Help Expecting and New Parents

In August, the National Partnership for Women & Families released the fourth edition of Expecting Better: A State-by-State Analysis of Laws That Help Expecting and New Parents. This document outlines different policies across the United States, demonstrating that “every state has room for improvement, and most states are not doing nearly enough” to support expecting and new parents and their families. In this election season, Expecting Better, coupled with an understanding of the domestic policy agendas of presidential candidates and other government officials, may help illuminate the needs of parents and families and make clear which government officials are most capable of addressing those needs.